So instead of doing more things on the list, I'm going to write a long and rambling post about what I got up to at the weekend. What to say? It was a good weekend. SF films, SF books, SF fans in the form of greengolux and snowking (not forgetting the special guest appearance by Tom): It helped to fill the OUSFG-shaped hole in my life. Plus, it's always nice when representatives of two of my friend-groups meet and seem to get on with each other.
First up on friday evening was Cube 2: Hypercube. The first hour or so is great, drawing on the strengths of the original but promising a new perspective. Unfortunately, things gradually fall apart over the course of the second hour. There are a couple of reasons for this, but the most significant is the excess of explanation. One of the best things about Cube was the sense of mystery, that you were never quite given any definitive answers. That's not the case with the sequel, and although on balance I enjoyed the film (on reflection, for instance, I think there's a case to be made that several of the more out-there plot developments are a deliberate reflection of the chaotic state of the system), I can't deny that it was a disappointment.
Next was a late-night screening of Plan 9 From Outer Space. If you've seen it, then you know. If you haven't...well, it's an experience. Truly, famously, ludicrously bad, it lurches from plot point to plot point with little rhyme or reason. But at least I can say I've seen it, now.
One pit-stop at snowking's trendy abode later and it was saturday morning, time for the Douglas Adams memorial debate: "Does Sci-Fi Predict the Future?" The panel was composed of not-even-a-little-bit-famous and not-terribly-articulate author Steve Aylett, some guy described by Richard Dawkins as 'in need of psychiatric help', an american who recommended electrifying your bloodstream to cure HIV, and Dave Green of NTK fame. The latter was easily the most interesting of the four, although it was a little disappointing to discover that he'd never read True Names.
That afternoon we managed to resist the charms of Incubus (Kirk in black and white, speaking Esperanto) and instead trawled the bookshops of Charing Cross road and elsewhere. I came away with a cheap hardback of Cordwainer Smith's The Rediscovery of Man, John Barnes' short story/essay collection Apostrophes and Apocalypses, two John Wyndham novels I'd not come across before (Web and The Outward Urge), a copy of Cory Doctorow's internet-published novella Down And Out In The Magic Kingdom, and two Ian McDonald books - Chaga, and Speaking In Tongues, a short story collection.
Yes, those were all justifiable purchases.
I'm not even half-way through the weekend, and I already think this post is too long. It would certainly be too long if I discussed all twelve of saturday evening's short films extravaganza (undoubted highlight being the somewhere-between-Lynch-and-Gaiman 'The Cat With Hands'), or the trip snowking and I made to the British Museum on sunday. And yesterday evening saw me in a different part of London altogether, catching up with Marie and our mutual friend Sam, over from the states to attend a conference at UCL.
You know it's been a good weekend when you have too much to write about.
On the way home, I finished off Philip Reeve's Smarties Gold Prize-award-winning Mortal Engines. I thought it was fun - not the most demanding read in the world, but pacy and interesting and not afraid of facing the consequences of the plot points it introduces. That said, the central hook - great travelling steampunk-esque cities wandering the globe, preying on each other to survive - is so arresting, so vivid, that I think I'd have enjoyed the book even if that had been all there was to it.